Redemption in Writing: How we pick who gets saved

I finally watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night. And it was really good. From characters to plot, it was both a great nostalgia flick and a neat addition to the canon. But it also reminded me what a huge role class and privilege play within movie universes when it comes to redemption storylines.

(This piece is going to include some mild spoilers, so watch out.)

One of the major subplots in the movie was whether the villainous Ren would reconcile with his parents and reject the dark side. Presumably, upon rejecting the dark side, he would return home, hug his mom, cry in the arms of his parents and then retreat to a Jedi monastery to think upon his misdeeds, or heroically join the battle against the dark side and his evil former mentor.

ren

Mind, this character’s screen time included :

  • ordering the wholesale slaughter of an entire village,
  • running guy through with his light saber,
  • torturing a resistance fighter off-screen,
  • and colluding in the destruction of three to five heavily inhabited planets.

And this is just what happened during the movie. But his parents love him and want him to come home. Continue reading

Buddy Read with Tash | The 5th Wave

Last month, I dove into The Handmaid’s Tale and talked genre drift and the flavors of oppression across the books different international covers. (Check out Tash’s great insights here.)

thefifthwaveThis month, we decided to go in the Teen Alien Invasion Romance direction and tackle Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. After all, the movie version just came out, it’s streaming on Amazon, AND the trailer promises an alien invasion with aliens taking over human brains. Who’s infested? Who’s still human? NO ONE KNOWS.

And also because, clearly, I learned nothing from watching The Host. Continue reading

[Book Review] A junkyard underdog in my military space opera

Vick’s Vultures by Scott Warren

Another tasty space opera treat from the book universe.

Vick's Vultures.pngVictoria Marin, privateer and captain of the salvage spaceship Condor, is in the red and in danger of losing her ship if she can’t locate fresh salvage and bring home some new xenotech for profit. It seems too good to be true when her crew catch a distress signal in nearby space. What she finds there, though, is a drifting wreck and an inconvenient survivor – First Prince Tavram, heir apparent to one of the largest and most powerful empires in known space. And there’s a deadly, powerful warlord from an opposing empire hot on his trail.

Vick’s Vultures is a space opera in the military spirit of Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series and David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, with the alien species density per planet of the Star Trek universe.  It’s light on description, great with the action, and tight on the military maneuvers. And unlike the genre’s ubiquitous young, untested commander persona who has to figure things out as crisis looms, we get Captain Victoria, a veteran with a loyal, established team, ready to rumble with the universe. Continue reading

[Book Review] One soulmate, too many space princes

Shrouded by Frances Pauli

“When Vashia arrives on Shroud as an indentured bride, Dolfan recognizes immediately that they are meant to be together. Broken, lost, and on the run, she trusts no one, but Dolfan has enough faith for the both of them… Until his people’s sacred ritual gives Vashia to someone else.”

“This one looks right up your alley,” my friend told me. “It’s science fiction full of planet royalty and court machinations and forbidden romance.”

“Nnnngghh,” I said. At that point, I may have been lying on the floor, holding a pillow over my face.

“Four words: Arranged Marriage Space Opera.”

Oh. Well, why didn’t you just say so? Continue reading

Book Watching: Upcoming scifi and fantasy shows

This week, I got TV on my mind. Book-to-TV adaptations, that is.

This is happening:

American Gods by Starz

This trailer for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel dropped last week, and it is gorgeous. Full on dramatic imagery, powerful silhouette shots, and slow-motion drama, I’m feeling a visual vibe of The Fountain (2016) and the dark drama of Breaking Bad. I also wonder if the movie will lean more towards suspense rather than special effects.

Release date: 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Netflix

They’ve already started shooting for sure, and IMDB says this series based on Lemony Snicket’s books, will premiere in August 2016. As in, this month. Except Netflix hasn’t only just finished filming and hasn’t even released an official trailer yet (though a suspiciously well-made fan trailer has been making the rounds), so I’m not stocking up on popcorn yet. The show will star Neil Patrick Harris, Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes and was rumored to be quite a bit darker than the books.

Release date: Filming just finished, so…December 2016?

A-new-series-of-unfortunate-events

His Dark Materials by BBC

Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy is coming to a TV near you (no, not the 2007 movie). I’ve been hearing about this one on and off for a while, but facts remain sparse. It sounds like pre-production has been scheduled for this fall (so, now?) and filming will take place in Wales at the end of this year (maybe). Continue reading

[Book Review] Space romance, running from aliens, and lots of suspicion

When I first launched theCanaryReview a few years back, I was going to make it a blog dedicated solely to space opera books. Then, I realized I’d never be able to sit still within one subgenre.

But I still love them. And so I bring you a couple more fun reads from this delicious sci-fi romance gene.

Enemy Within by Marcella BurnardEnemy Within (Enemy, #1)

Captain Ari Rose is the only person to survive being a prisoner of war of humanity’s alien enemies. Ever. Stripped of her command and banished to her father’s scientific expedition to finish a Ph.D. she doesn’t want, Ari wonders why she bothered to survive. But when pirates commandeer her father’s ship, Ari once again becomes a prisoner.

As far as pirate leader Cullin is concerned, if Ari hasn’t been brainwashed and returned as a spy, then she must be part of a traitorous alliance endangering billions of lives. Continue reading

[Book Review] In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker

In the Company of Thieves

I don’t usually do short story anthologies. But let’s face it. If Kage Baker had done a phone book, I’d still read it. From her delightful riff on fantasy with The Anvil of the World, to her epic fantasy in House of the Stag, to her brilliant time-travel Company series, I’ve pretty much loved everything Kage Baker has ever done.

In The Company of Thieves, we get a collection of five previously published short stories and one original to the anthology, written posthumously and based off of the late Kage Baker’s writing notes. In this, Kathleen Bartholomew, Kage Baker’s sister, joins the ranks of the many writers who have continue their late family members’ legacies: Christopher Tolkien, Todd McCaffrey, Brandon Sanderson at the request of Robert Jordan’s wife, Brian Herbert…

It’s a bittersweet experience, reading posthumous publications of a favorite author written by someone else, and it always leaves me feeling both desperately grateful and bereft. Still, this collection brings Kage Baker’s lyrical style, dark humor, and lovely prose. I adore how her characters come to fully fledged life, no matter what style she uses, and how they stick around, long after I put the book away.

Because the stories in this anthology tie-in directly to Baker’s time traveling Company series you can, but probably shouldn’t, read them as standalones. But if you are already familiar with her science fiction, you’ll get a whole lot more out of the collection.

Book for review provided by Tachyon Publications.

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[Small Chirp] Top Benevolent Governments in Fantasy and Sci Fi

Every Tuesday, I open twitter for post-topic suggestions. This week timely topic, courtesy of Elisa Nukle, is government in literature.

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My gut instinct: write about all the terrible futures in dystopian fiction. Brave New World, 1984, Hunger Games, the works. Except…except what about the positive depictions of government in fantasy and scifi?

The beard. Beard of Evil.

On the hunt for examples of good governance, I ran into plenty of stink-toads in sheep’s clothing. All too often, the shining example of Good and Order toddles along for a few books before revealing its hydra heads of evil or its sheer bureaucratic ineptitude in dealing with the endless crises the hero has to resolve. Harry Potter‘s Ministry of Magic stayed on the straight and narrow for a while, before taking a hard turn into fascist pamphlet printing.

And then there’s Saruman who decided to use his good wizarding skills and build himself an army of orcs. But who could blame him after all that time he spent cooped up in a tower with nothing better to do than comb his beard? The rooms must have been tiny!

But I do have a few candidates for the Benevolent Governance award. Requirements of this list include sincere benevolence (or the convincing veneer of it), the ability to achieve world peace, and the mad skills to do it in style.

This post will involve spoilers! You have been warned. Continue reading

[Book Review] An agent and an assassin go time traveling

The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P., #1)

Chevie is seventeen and already an FBI agent – except ever since a mission went disastrously awry, the FBI has done its best to bury their not-very-legal underage agents program, and Chevie along with it. Now Chevie’s been banished to London, assigned to babysit an old house with a weird steampunk-looking pod.

Two hundred years away and into the past, Riley finds himself clutching a knife, with Garrick, his master, urging Riley to make his first kill as his assassin apprentice. Except, Riley’s first kill goes terribly awry, and he is suddenly on a collusion course with Chevie and her modern reality.

Take a pinch of time travel, a dash of two words colliding, a secret government program, and two spunky character. Then add a murderous villain obsessed with a betrayal, a gang of angry rams, and a conspiracy that goes back to the future and forward to the past. And it’s up to Riley and Chevie to team up and stop all the crazy. Continue reading

[Book Review] Romance on the lam

Book Review: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga, #15)(Vorkosigan Saga #15)

I can’t believe it’s been fifteen books already. Here is the latest installment in this military space opera series, following Ivan Vorpatril. In the past, Ivan has played the Watson to the series protagonist Miles’ Sherlock Holmes. But with Captin Vorpatril’s Alliance, it’s his turn to get his very own book.

Captain Ivan Vorpatril, confirmed bachelor, is happy as an admiral’s aide on an easy assignment, far from the politicking of the empire. On the other side of town, Tej Arqua and the exotic blue-skinned Rish are on the run, assassins on their heels and a price on their heads.

And of course, Tej and Rish’s troubles soon become Ivan’s very big and inconvenient problem. 

Bujold does it again – the novel is a rollercoaster of plots and resolutions, all with the humor and wit we’ve come to expect and love in her Miles’ series. I wasn’t very keen on reading a book from Ivan’s point of view (he’d never really struck me as an exciting character), but man, was I wrong. Ivan is great. He’s my favorite. I want more books about Ivan.  Continue reading